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The Anti-Aging Wonder-Ingredient... What Does It Really Do?!

By now, we've probably all heard of the ingredient Retinol, but this incredible ingredient can cause a slight confusion! What's retinol? Is it the same as a retinoid? Or even a carotenoid? Here at Cel, we're going to do our best to answer the questions that seem to pop up the most, and bust some retinol myths!

What exactly is retinol?

Retinol is a topical ingredient derived from vitamin A. Most of them are animal-based, but there are now some plant-based ones called carotenoids, too. 

There are, however, a lot of derivatives of vitamin A, so retinols are actually an umbrella term for retinoic acid, retinol, retinaldehyde, retinal, and retinyl palmitate. It's also classified as a cosmetic rather than a drug, which is why it's found in so many over-the-counter formulas. 

What is it used for?

Retinol is known as "one of the best anti-aging products out there", and is used to boost collagen and promote a higher rate of skin cell renewal. When applied, it can improve skins texture, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and smooth out imperfections like pigmentation and acne. 

By increasing the rate of cell regeneration ,you can keep your skin looking youthful and glowing. Your skin will be softer and smoother as a result, and many sufferers of acne scaring have hailed Retinol as their skin saviour.

How does it work?

Retinol needs to be broken down into retinoid acid before it can regenerate skin cells and stimulate collagen production. Once in this form, they increase cell turnover and stimulate the production of proteins in the skin to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. 

Will my face peel?

Even the best retinols might make your face peel a tiny bit, even more so if you have sensitive skin. The peeling is not a sign of exfoliation, but of irritation brought on by the cell turnover. A small amount of peeling is no cause for concern, and you can combat the dryness by using a good-quality moisturizer. Peeling is a sign you're using a retinol too strong for your skin, or too often. It’s best to ease yourself in with a weaker retinol, or to dilute it before use if you notice redness and peeling. Always patch test before you start, too!

Can I use it in the day?

There’s not much point using retinol in the day, as it breaks down in the sunlight. When using retinol, it's so important to take care in the sun because the new skin cells generated are more susceptible to sun damage. Always take care to avoid the sun and wear SPF everyday whilst you’re using retinol. 

Will it thin my skin?

It actually does the opposite, retinol thicken your epidermis. This thins over time, as you age, so a thicker dermis means more elasticity in your skin, and a suppler complexion. Win win!

Can I use it with vitamin C?

People generally worry that using both retinol and vitamin c will cause skin a lot of irritation, but they actually work very well together. If you’re new to both of them, maybe start using one before the other, and when you can use them together use vitamin c in the morning, and retinol in the evening. 

Which one is best for me?

If you’re a beginner, we’d suggest a low percentage retinol to start off with, like a 0.5% or 1% one. Use it a couple of times a week and see if you can build it up. If it’s irritating your skin, try diluting it and see how it feels. If irritation persists, discontinue use.

If you suffer from dry skin, you can find retinol that are highly moisturizing too, so you don’t have to worry about irritating your skin.

And if your skin is sensitive, you can find retinol as an oil or with SPF included, so you always know you're protected and your skin will remain hydrated. Keep to the lower percentages and keep out that sun. 

Our verdict... 

While retinol are great for your skin, we can understand why they can be slightly daunting. So don't be frightened and make sure you look after your skin and ease them slowly into your routine. There are so many on the market, one's ranging from $10-$100, so shop around and find one that suits your skin type. And don't forget your SPF!



Annabel Wood


Get ready for great hair in 2021